Posted by: Kate | April 22, 2010

From the Private Journal of…

During the hospitalization, I started writing in a journal again: by hand, with pen, on paper. I have never, my whole life, been good with diaries or journals; I start them enthusiastically and then time goes by without a post and I get a little embarrassed at my own inability to create a healthy habit and I throw it out and forget about it. And then I start another…

But this one seems to be hanging in there, thanks primarily to ongoing insomnia. Willem can sleep through a light on in the bedroom, but not through typing, so I can write or I can play on my DS, and that’s about it. My mom is still with us, so I can’t go out into the living room and entertain myself there, and the doorway between the living room and dining room is open, so if I go in there I’m still keeping her awake. Thus… a journal.

I won’t always preface a journal entry with an intro; sometimes it will just become a blog post all by itself, like magic. And lots of others aren’t for public consumption; turns out, I can still find things to say that I would rather keep somewhat private (Willem has read it and I would be fine with my closer friends reading if they wanted, though I’m not typically a happy-go-lucky sort by the time I’m up late at night and writing, as you’ll see). But I thought I’d start with an explanation, this time.


I’m home. My baby seems to be at least as attached to me as he is to my mother, through no stunning effort of my own – which bodes well for the long term, after she returns to her own home and I will have to exert that stunning effort. My older kids are behaving normally, as measured by pre-hospitalization standards: another good thing. My husband and I are communicating – not always smoothly or efficiently, but still – so we’ll be OK. My health is considered well enough to let me remain at home.


I am, once again – I don’t count, but it’s not not the first time, or the fourth or fifth or twelfth – hovering on the edge of a very dark, unstable place. When people talk about losing their minds, they mean losing it in a state of confusion of chaos, hearing voices or running amok. But right now I know that, should I reach the point of losing my mind, it will be to this heavy, intense, stifling abyss which I can sense on my bad days. I spent some time there last year, though my memory of it is spotty – like I’m remembering a story I heard about someone else, not like I’m feeling something I lived through. It presses down on my skull, and the only thing that consistently drowns it out is the physical pain. My back, my surgical wounds, the resulting hip and knee and foot pain from supporting the back and belly, the edema, the nausea which sometimes gives way to loss of appetite, and all of it contributes to, if not creates, that bigger emotional pain, and thus is cycles.

And fear. Because I cannot, apparently, control anything in my life except my writing. And so I write, here or on the blog or on the message boards, somewhere, compulsively, every day, because I can still control most of my words (except for the ones I can’t quite remember, that I struggle to find mid-sentence)… and maybe because I have a need to prove my own existence, to slodify the fact that I was here on this Monday, this specific day, when otherwise the days all start to flow into each other in that hazy cycle of pain, interspersed with fleeting – terrifyingly fleeting – good intervals, hours when I feel like me, or someone like me. Control matters a lot, and I always knew it did, but now I really know on a visceral level, and so I leave some small written mark.

And fear, too, because the coma was just nothingness. Empty. No memory, no dreams, no bright white light. Just vacant. And if that is the closest a person can get to death and still live – and why think otherwise? – then I am terrified of death on a whole new level. I wish for the conviction (sometimes bordering on complacency, depending on the source) of religion, but I don’t feel any pull toward it. Maybe someday. Not Christianity, I don’t think; I’ve spent too much time examining and discarding that approach.

Every day is like this: the conscious reminders of the good things, the dragging nmbness at the edge of the bad. It’s a constant hot-cold, push-pull sort of strain on my heart and brain and soul, and puts me in mind of mechanical engineering and the equations that represent the specific circumstances under which a road will crack, a building will sway, a bridge collapse. Enough extremes of experience and things break down internally. So the question is inevitable: where is my own breaking point?

And what happens then?

And, as a follow-up… this was written a few days ago, and I’m better now. Between then and now, I got worse than that, and I’ve been better than I am at the moment. It’s all a tremendous roller coaster, and I refuse to post only when I’m on the fun parts. But I’m OK, truly. And regardless of what happens at that breaking point, I’ll be some version of OK, because what other choice is there, as a mother and wife and sister and daughter and friend, and so on, who knows she is just as needed as she needs others?


  1. I don’t have any wise words, but I love you and will help you in any way I can to walk through this. Cause you will get through this, I’ve seen *that* edge, and a few times I think I fell off. Don’t worry too much about tomorrow, just get through today. It will get better 🙂 (((Kate)))

  2. Hey Kate, it’s Robyn. I’m like Jessi. I don’t have any wise words for you but I find you tremendously courageous. I can’t believe what you’ve gone through already and you’re still here. Just remember, the dark places don’t last forever. That’s what keeps me going.

  3. I’m here in whatever capacity I can be of support–from 3000 miles away….

    I love you and I know you’ll get thru this, and it will suck, but eventually, it will get better. I know this.

    Hugs to you, my friend.

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